Another year has gone by and another whirlwind of activity here in this wonderful community of Fennimore. This was the 5th year of a baseball camp here in town, and the 3rd year where Steve Woodard and I have teamed up, together, to help provide some quality instruction for kids of this area, in baseball and softball. It has become a staple of the summer here, something many look forward to every year. Every year I worry about the weather and how we will pull this thing off. This year we saw 4 of the most beautiful days of weather that we could ask for.
Before the recap, I would like to thank all of my volunteer coaches that take a week’s worth of vacation to be at our camp. They could take those days to take trips with their family, sleep in, or just get out of town. But instead, they choose to use that time to help the kids learn the game of baseball and softball. What a wonderful use of their time. Also, a special thanks to all of my sponsors who continue to support our camps. Since I can’t list them in this article, please visit our website at www.doit4derek.com and click on the camp information to see who they all are.
So Day 1 of camp starts out with many late night phone calls on Sunday night wondering if it is not too late to register and some early morning registration walk-ups, which are always fun. As we look around at the kids now taking up two sets of bleachers, we feel as though we may have a little more than originally expected. 2 years ago at camp, for the 4 days (our first 4-day camp adventure with Woody) we had 125 TOTAL kids for the 4 days. For camp one this year we had 124. This is by far the largest number of kids we had dealt with. It ended up working out great. In addition to our 7 ex-Brewers (Woodard, Cooper, Gantner, Ladd, Mueller, Wagner and Castro) we added Erin White, a 2X Olympic Softball Player and her husband Jim White, who was just inducted into the High School Coaches Hall of Fame. So the kids got some wonderful instruction. Current Brewers players signed some baseballs for us, and the Milwaukee Brewers organization graciously donated many items for us to give away to the kids.
Monday evening went off without a hitch as well. We had another beautiful night for a charity softball game. The Pros beat the Joes 15-11 in a very competitive game. The home run derby was won by Paul Wagner and the defense of my title was unsuccessful. I now get to hear about it for another 358 days, and trust me, Paul won’t let me forget. The night ended with yet another beautiful fireworks display by Kastner Pyrotechnics.
Tuesday marked the final day of camp 1 where the kids worked on offense. Camp ended with a lot of great gifts to the kids for listening, hustle and effort. As usual, the players lined up for autographs at the end. For the evening activity, we tried something new. The firemen were gracious enough to let us use their facility to host a 64-team Bean Bag (Cornhole) Tournament. I had designed some custom boards using the baseball cards of each of the players. We filled the entire bracket and had 16 youth based teams as well. It was a beautiful night and the firemen took such great care of us. When it got dark, they actually raised the ladder truck and lit up the driveway so we could play bags. It appeared all had a great time, and this event will definitely be fine-tuned and back on the 2019 agenda.
Wednesday arrived and another 84 campers showed up to push our numbers up to 208 camp spots, which is incredible seeing how just two years ago we had 125. The weather on Wednesday was once again wonderful and the kids enjoyed some more great instruction. Wednesday evening was the 8-pin tap at Tower Junction, another great event. On Thursday we finished up the 4th day of camp and said goodbye to the campers until next year. We hustled out to the golf course and had some amazing food, some good laughs, and some great times. Oh, and we golfed too!
All-in-all it was another wonderful week of bringing something unique to our community. It is a very tiring, emotional week, for our family, but something we hope the community enjoys every year. I think the plan is to keep it going until the kids graduate. I am sure the camp will change a bit, as we welcome new people to our community. But one thing will remain constant. We will always do our best to bring a fun, family-oriented camp experience to the people of this community.
One more thing to tackle. There were a couple questions as to what happens to all of the money raised. Our family keeps none of the money. It all goes into the Derek Lendosky Memorial Fund. With that money, we give away scholarships in Derek’s name, to multiple communities. We also do our best to continue to improve not only our ballfields but others in the surrounding communities. Our 2019 project list has already started. The Highland Rec Committee has ok ’d for us to purchase a fence for baseball and softball for the upper field so that the kids don’t have to keep running after the balls. We will also be replacing the scoreboard at Derek’s Field, that continues to cause us problems. And finally, our hope is to raise the area behind the dugout there, so that people can see the field. Over the past couple of years, that has washed away and dropped about a foot. Perhaps we can look into a covered area as well.
So that is the 2018 camp update. I hope that all who participated in any of the events, from the camp to the nightly events, enjoyed the week we had. It was even cool to watch Woody throw the home run derby on Saturday night at the ballpark. It’s a wonderful treat to bring this community. And until next time…